In It For the Long Haul



What motorcycle have you kept the longest?

The idea of proposing this question to readers came to me several times while pulling this issue together. The inspiration came from reading author Phillip Tooth’s feature on a BMW R50S, bought new in 1963 by motorcycle enthusiast Robert Freeman. Robert traveled on the bike, raced it, put a sidecar on it for a few years in the 1970s, and even competed in road rallies with it, winning trophies along the way. Now put back to a solo setup, the bike shows the patina of more than 100,000 miles of faithful service, with far fewer fixes needed than one might expect.

If I were to answer the question, the longest term resident of my garage is also a BMW: My 1973 R75/5 LWB. I’d actually once seen the bike before it came up for sale, parked in editor Richard Backus’ garage. His friend Gary Glover had brought it over for some mechanical help. I think this must have been about 2007. I don’t remember what the problem was, but the bike soon went back to Gary, who at some point stashed it away in a friend’s barn.

A few years later, Gary decided it was time to part with the bike. It wasn’t running and no one knew what was wrong with it, but the price was fair. I was short on cash at the time, but my friend Chris was starting to get the itch for an old bike, so he supplied the funds and I went and retrieved “our” BMW (using Richard's borrowed truck, no less). This was in February of 2009. After getting it home, cleaning the fuel tank, putting a new battery in it and checking all the fluids, we tried to crank the bike over, and that’s when we discovered that a couple of cylinder head studs on the right cylinder had pulled from the case. Not good.

A couple of phone calls led me to Benny, a local wrench (and Airhead enthusiast), and off the bike went to his shop. Benny inserted a couple of helicoils (if only I'd known what Time-Serts were back then!), cleaned the carbs, set the valves and points, and lo and behold, we were up and running. I had a new set of tires spooned on soon thereafter, and from then on the bike was ridden regularly. I added R90S handlebars and replaced the tired rear shocks with a spare original pair that Richard had in his attic of “motorcycle parts he might need someday,” and Chris enjoyed the motorcycle for a few years.

4/1/2021 7:05:10 PM

Cont'd BTW - Still looking for a good 1969 Suzuki 250cc X6 Hustler.

4/1/2021 6:54:52 PM

Back in 1970 bought a brand new last year’s model 1969 Suzuki 250cc X6 Hustler. Loved that bike, rode it, raced it, commuted to work for 17 years, but with 3 young girls, sold it and bought a printer for my Apple II computer. Years later I got ‘92 HD 1200cc Sportster that I have had for 16 years now. Have nine other bikes now, but bought and sold about 50 that I have restored (modest restorations). ‘74 Norton, 78 CB750, 83 BMW R100RS, 86 Dnepr w/sidecar, 69 BSA A65, 83 Shadow 750, 2010 Aprilia 125.

3/23/2021 5:55:35 PM

Bought a Honda V-65C in 1983 from an insurance company that was in a crash, and because I worked at a dealership got the parts at cost. Had about 1,000 miles on it, and still has less than 5,000 on it. Ain't like the old days when you could reasonably expect to ride a bike on the freeway without loud mufflers without getting killed. :(

The sound and the fury: celebrate the machines that changed the world!

Motorcycle Classics JulAug 16Motorcycle Classics is America's premier magazine for collectors and enthusiasts, dreamers and restorers, newcomers and life long motorheads who love the sound and the beauty of classic bikes. Every issue  delivers exciting and evocative articles and photographs of the most brilliant, unusual and popular motorcycles ever made!

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